#SuzyLFW: Christopher Kane - From The Factory Floor To Outer Space

Two sets of London protesters, one in favour of the UK staying in the EU and the other against President Trump's proposed state visit to Britain, were taking place a stone's throw from where Christopher Kane was staging his Autumn/Winter 2017 show.

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Given the designer's sensitivity to the ordinary people he grew up with in working class Scotland, his interest in outsider art and his championship of the downtrodden, this presentation in Tate Britain should have been his moment to make a statement. But, if anything, the designer seemed to be thinking of escapism, perhaps even into outer space.

Christopher Kane

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Kane is an artist with clothes, but this season's offering, more mix-and-match than his previous "make-do and mend", was a puzzle. It started, like ready-to-wear fashion itself, on the factory floor. The idea was to mix grand silk damask and taffeta with a more utilitarian look.

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As models came out in workday coats with Velcro fastenings and sagging cardigans, it seemed that the designer was connecting to a previous collection when plastic rain hats topped clothes that signalled the poor and downtrodden, never mind their stylish fabrics and ultimate high prices.

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But Kane was thinking of something else when he contrasted sandals with the foam pads of cheap footwear and slippers gleaming with a hologram sheen. That same eerie, futuristic material was also used for clothing.

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"It was basically thinking mechanical, really loving the sense of oil spills and how they become much more metallic - it just felt right really," the designer said. "Then there were the holographic flowers, with primroses darting over the weeds."

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The clothes were not nearly as weird as Kane made them sound. But there were different dramas going on, for example, the use of pattern featuring spacecraft and otherworldly technology produced by outsider artist Ionel Talpazan, who died in America two years ago. Bold and colourful images of spaceships appeared on long dresses and skirts.

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Maybe, under endless pressure to churn out at least six collections a year, Kane had not been able to use his myriad thoughts in a cohesive way. For there were singular ideas that really worked - like knitwear flopping open at the neck to one side offering an artful sensuality.

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But the whole Autumn/Winter 2017 show was as difficult to digest as the latest ad campaign Kane launched last week in tabloid newspaper the Sun, featuring photographs for his Spring/Summer 2017 collection taken in a religious grotto near his family home in Scotland.

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There were some moments of grace on the runway - especially a black velvet dress, bias cut and sloping off one shoulder.
That was alone in its confident simplicity.

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For however much icy modernity Kane put in slim silver dresses, Space Age shiny suits and sparkling appliquéd flowers, the designer was at his best in the rare moments when he kept things simple.

Vogue

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